Thursday, August 3, 2017

Album Review: Dead Cross - Dead Cross

There are certain musicians who, by virtue of their skill with an instrument, get a reputation as being among the very best at what they do. But what gets lost is that often the circumstances have much to do with that person being able to showcase themselves in the first place. Being in the right place at the right time is vitally important, because even many 'legends' can't survive on their own, without the right partners to work with. Case in point; Dave Lombardo. He is a legendary drummer, but when he isn't working on music written by more talented songwriters, either in Slayer or Testament, he is anonymous. Nothing he has done outside of those long-established bands has ever come close to earning him real acclaim.

Teaming up with Mike Patton might have been something that could, but Dead Cross is not going to be that vehicle. Or let me rephrase that, since there is always the chance it might. Dead Cross should not be that vehicle. It is a band that is so wildly misguided, so unbelievably detached from music as a common form, that it is utterly baffling.

First of all, I will admit to being unfamiliar with Mike Patton's history. I know his reputation, but I couldn't pick him out of a lineup if he was wearing a name tag. This album is the first thing I know of him, and I sincerely hope it will be the last. His atonal shrieking and foul-mouthed lyrics are a parody of what hardcore or punk music is supposed to be. He sounds like a man in the midst of a mid-life crisis, trying his damnedest to sound vital, youthful, and not like a man slowly graying into irrelevance.

But he is just the most obvious of the problems Dead Cross has. The biggest problem is that between Patton, Lombardo, and the rest of the band, there is still a dearth of songwriting talent. I know the band's identity is supposed to be 'brutal' and 'manic', but there still needs to be some structure underneath the chaos. You can't rebel against the rules if there are none, so to speak.

And that's what makes "Dead Cross" so painful to listen to. There isn't a single riff that doesn't blur by in a mess of noise, there isn't a drum pattern that you can air-drum to, there isn't a vocal line anyone would ever find themselves accidentally shouting along to. This is a band that takes Slayer's chaos and forgets that Slayer was still writing real songs. These are sketches of noise that never develop, that go nowhere, and that offer nothing appealing for the ear.

If I was writing the history books, Dead Cross is a band that would end any discussion of Patton or Lombardo being remembered as among the best at what they do. It is such a collosal waste of talent, such a pathetic attempt to turn back the clock, that it truly does undo much of the good work they must have done in their careers.

I seem to have been saying this a lot lately, but "Dead Cross" is a heavy contender for the worst album of the year. While others may have been more disappointing in relation to expectations, "Dead Cross" is on its own accord truly awful. The only redeeming feature I could find is that it is mercifully short. If it were any longer, I would have grown genuinely angry that I had wasted that much of my time listening to this slap-dash effort.

Dead Cross is dead to me, period.

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